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David Diamond

Assistant Professor, English and African American Studies

David Mark Diamond teaches and writes about eighteenth-century British literature and the early Black Atlantic, with particular emphasis on the role that religion plays in the formation (or re-formation) of imperial global imaginaries. His current research explores literary responses to secularization, or the process by which Christian belief came unbound from singular doctrinal orthodoxy and this newly liberalized religion was grafted more and more fully onto the European ambition of racialized planetary domination.

In his first book, Reading Character After Calvin: Secularization, Empire, and the 18th-Century Novel (University of Virginia Press, forthcoming), Diamond revises and relates the histories of secularization, imperial race-making, and the rise of novelistic character. He argues that the surprising persistence and complexity of two-dimensional characterization in novels from the Restoration to the Romantic era index secularism’s disciplinary valence. Flesh and spirit in need of domestication—errant beliefs and forms of life—manifest through, for example, the instability of allegorical personification or the physiognomic language of Gothic faces. In simultaneity with spiritual excess or insufficiency, corporeal differences of sex and race are made to appear, and the intensifying, biopoliticized violence of empire made to appear justified.

Diamond’s next book project maps the first serious inroads of postsecularism in the work of Black antislavery intellectuals. As they imagine systems of belief and literary reference somehow aslant of secularist prescripts, writers like Ignatius Sancho, Ottobah Cugoano, and James Wedderburn establish the literal and conceptual grammar of postsecular critique: counterfactual, conditional, optative.


A.B., English and Government & Legal Studies Bowdoin College

A.M., Ph.D., English Language and Literature, University of Chicago

Articles Featuring David Diamond

Gathered by: Chera Jo Watts

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